Home Christian News How the Shofar Emerged as a Weapon of Spiritual Warfare for Some...

How the Shofar Emerged as a Weapon of Spiritual Warfare for Some Evangelicals

“It all becomes a way of wrapping yourself around what is assumed to be God’s preferred cultural expressions,” said Gary Burge, a professor of New Testament and dean of the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Burge calls this impulse “philo-Semitism,” meaning “love of Jews.”

The rise of Messianic Judaism in the 1960s and 1970s further popularized Jewish ritual practices, such as the blowing of the shofar.

Messianic Jews combine Christianity with elements of Judaism. Their congregations blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana, which they call Yom Teruah, or the “Day of the Sounding of the Shofar,” as the Bible instructs in the Book of Numbers (29:1).

Much of Messianic Judaism was inspired by the charismatic Jesus movement of the 1960s, said Neal Surasky, director of publications for Chosen People Ministries, a group that tries to both evangelize Jews and bring love of Jews to the church.

“The Jesus movement created a new influx of messianic culture that brought with it those things that were typically Jewish in origin into the church,” said Surasky, who also leads a Messianic Jewish congregation in Columbia, Maryland. ”A lot of Christians today are attempting to put Jesus back into his Jewish context.”

Surasky pointed out that the word “trumpet” appears in the New Testament Book of 1 Thessalonians, too, where it says Jesus will return “with the trumpet call of God.”

But the use of the shofar really took off in the 1980s with the rise of the International Christian Embassy, a global organization that seeks to connect the church to Israel. Based in Jerusalem, the organization holds a massive gathering of thousands of mostly charismatic Christians each year during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, where participants march around Jerusalem blowing the shofar.

For these Christian Zionists, the link to Israel is grounded in a biblical passage where God tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:3).

“They see that as God’s transactional promise to Christians,” said Hummel.

American Jews have not always appreciated the Christian commandeering of the shofar.

“As Jews, we are quite accustomed to the ways in which others have inappropriately appropriated our sacred rituals and objects for uses that overtly subvert their intended purposes,” said. Rabbi Aaron Alexander of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.

But for many Christians, such as those marching in D.C. to protest the certification of the election, the blowing of the shofar has transcended that tie to Israel or to Judaism.

“I doubt many people in the Jericho March know that history,” he said. “They’re using the shofar for their own political expressions.”


This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.

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Yonat Shimron joined RNS in April 2011 and became managing editor in 2013. She was the religion reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. from 1996 to 2011. During that time she won numerous awards. She is a past president of the Religion Newswriters Association.